Journal Article
The political and cultural dimensions of water diplomacy in the middle east

My overall interest is in identifying new and better ways of managing transboundary

water resources. Better, in my view, means maximizing the sustainable

use of water at a reasonable cost while ensuring that the urgent

water needs of all water users (that is, city residents, farmers and industrial

developers) are met simultaneously. This has to happen while ecosystem

services are maintained. In most parts of the world, eff orts inspired

by Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) do not meet these

objectives.

Within each country, national and state governments set water- management

goals and provide the infrastructure needed to meet them. They fund these

eff orts with general tax revenues or rely on dedicated water tariff s and fees

to do so. Government agencies try to coordinate public and private eff orts

to deliver water to urban dwellers, manage wastewater, provide water for

food production and manage the water necessary to produce and distribute

energy. They must have the capacity to get bureaucrats at multiple levels to

work together, either by off ering them fi nancial incentives or by exercising the

authority required to ensure compliance. In most instances, they have trouble

doing both.

Managing waters that cross international boundaries is even more diffi -

cult. Nations are sovereign. While international laws call for the sharing of

transboundary waters, it is sometimes diffi cult to force countries to comply.

However, most governments comply, most of the time, with most transboundary

agreements because they do not want to lose their credibility (and they do

not want to be forced out of other international regimes that are important

to them). This is generally referred to as “compliance without enforcement”

(Chayes and Chayes 1991 ). The water- sharing agreements that work best are

those that meet the interests of the (people in the) states involved and do not

require much enforcement.

Water management within a country and water diplomacy across international

borders depend on the problem- solving capabilities of the political entities

involved, especially when the self- interests of the parties are not aligned.

Water management (that is, operational eff orts to implement laws, policies

and programs that water diplomacy generates) is only eff ective when allocation

and investment decisions are made in a timely fashion, parties who stand

to be aff ected by decisions are engaged in monitoring the results and helping

revise decisions, staff capacity is suffi cient and long- term relationships (especially

trust) among relevant stakeholders are maintained or enhanced. Water

diplomacy, in contrast, is usually judged to be successful when the actions of

institutional actors are viewed as legitimate by those aff ected by them, decisions

take account of local knowledge and agency discretion (in the face of

unanticipated events) is exercised wisely. Let us examine two hypothetical

cases to understand why and how water diplomacy and water management

often fall short.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSusskind L
JournalWater Security in the Middle East: Essays in Scientific and Social Cooperation
Volume1
Start Page185-205
Date Published01/2017
ISBN Number978-1-78308-566-8
Abstract

My overall interest is in identifying new and better ways of managing transboundary

water resources. Better, in my view, means maximizing the sustainable

use of water at a reasonable cost while ensuring that the urgent

water needs of all water users (that is, city residents, farmers and industrial

developers) are met simultaneously. This has to happen while ecosystem

services are maintained. In most parts of the world, eff orts inspired

by Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) do not meet these

objectives.

Within each country, national and state governments set water- management

goals and provide the infrastructure needed to meet them. They fund these

eff orts with general tax revenues or rely on dedicated water tariff s and fees

to do so. Government agencies try to coordinate public and private eff orts

to deliver water to urban dwellers, manage wastewater, provide water for

food production and manage the water necessary to produce and distribute

energy. They must have the capacity to get bureaucrats at multiple levels to

work together, either by off ering them fi nancial incentives or by exercising the

authority required to ensure compliance. In most instances, they have trouble

doing both.

Managing waters that cross international boundaries is even more diffi -

cult. Nations are sovereign. While international laws call for the sharing of

transboundary waters, it is sometimes diffi cult to force countries to comply.

However, most governments comply, most of the time, with most transboundary

agreements because they do not want to lose their credibility (and they do

not want to be forced out of other international regimes that are important

to them). This is generally referred to as “compliance without enforcement”

(Chayes and Chayes 1991 ). The water- sharing agreements that work best are

those that meet the interests of the (people in the) states involved and do not

require much enforcement.

Water management within a country and water diplomacy across international

borders depend on the problem- solving capabilities of the political entities

involved, especially when the self- interests of the parties are not aligned.

Water management (that is, operational eff orts to implement laws, policies

and programs that water diplomacy generates) is only eff ective when allocation

and investment decisions are made in a timely fashion, parties who stand

to be aff ected by decisions are engaged in monitoring the results and helping

revise decisions, staff capacity is suffi cient and long- term relationships (especially

trust) among relevant stakeholders are maintained or enhanced. Water

diplomacy, in contrast, is usually judged to be successful when the actions of

institutional actors are viewed as legitimate by those aff ected by them, decisions

take account of local knowledge and agency discretion (in the face of

unanticipated events) is exercised wisely. Let us examine two hypothetical

cases to understand why and how water diplomacy and water management

often fall short.

URLhttp://www.oapen.org/download?type=document&docid=626411#page=200